Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I figured I’d celebrate with Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks. Tony Hawks, the British comedian, not to be confused with Tony Hawk, the skateboarder. Not that I initially made that mistake or anything when I first read the cover…
The story is basically, for all we know, an entirely true account of Tony’s journey hitch-hiking around Ireland with a mini-fridge. It’s described as “a totally purposeless idea, but a damn fine one…”
It starts as a drunken bet from a friend that he embraced & followed through on, but he quickly sobers up to realize it’s absolutely ridiculous. But that’s what makes it so great!
It’s part travel log, part quirky essays. It was a quick read. One might think that after the initial laughter at the idea of traveling with a fridge wears off, it would become a bit boring & repetitive, but it never does.
Along the way he meets a lot of real characters, people who seem like the kind of people you meet when you do something as crazy as this. He gains romantic interests & fun friends. Even if he didn’t tell you, you could tell he’s a comedian because his stories about his day to day life while lugging this fridge around are genuinely funny. He’s good at taking experiences that seem cool, perhaps weren’t, but making them even funnier in his telling of the events.
The fridge starts as kind of a gimmick, but advances into an almost spiritual symbol. Instead of it hindering him, people love him because of it. His hitchhiking is improved because more people want to help, he’s hailed on radio shows as “the guy with the fridge,” there’s bar games held in the fridge’s honor where people must bring kitchen appliances to win! There’s a lot of drinking in pubs & a lot of reflection. Plus it’s interesting to read as an American since he’s an English guy running around Ireland, making frequent commentary about the culture.
It’s both incredibly hard & insanely easy to believe all of this happened. Tony comments it’s believable because it’s Ireland. Anywhere else in the world, this potentially would not have worked. He loves the spirit & the camaraderie & the book ends with a parade for fuck’s sake. If none of this is convincing you to read it, I don’t know what will.
Tony made his journey in 1997, before the explosion of social media & what not, but this project called hitchBOT reminded me a lot of this story, which is another reason I’ve wanted to review it so badly.
There was also a movie made of Tony’s journey. It doesn’t seem as good as the book, probably would’ve been better if they did a documentary style one while actually traveling, but still worth checking out.
Hope everybody’s having a great St. Patrick’s day! My other reads for today will be “The Dead” from Dubliners & maybe a few of the stories from the Celtic books in the photo above. But more than anything, I just want some green beer.